The opening salvo in the Obamacare fight in the new Republican-controlled Congress has been fired, with the House easily passing a measure Thursday designed to weaken the healthcare law.
The bill seeks to revoke the Affordable Care Act’s provision that companies offer health coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Instead, the measure stipulates that employees must work 40 hours to be eligible for healthcare benefits.
The bill passed 252 to 172, with 12 Democrats voting yes. No Republican voted in opposition.
Republicans said the 30-hour threshold has caused many struggling Americans to have their work hours cut by employers that can’t afford to provide insurance.
“Businesses are now reacting to Obamacare’s perverse incentive, and scaling down,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “The employer mandate and Obamacre as a whole are hurting the job market and is hurting America. Only a full repeal of this law will solve the problem, but this bill helps.”
But Democrats say that upping the workweek definition will give businesses a legal excuse to stop covering employees who work more than 30 but fewer than 40 hours.
“This bill is nothing more than a tool for large employers to avoid providing their employees with health insurance, despite the fact they can afford to do so,” said Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. “The bill will reduce the number of people receiving insurance through their employers — simple fact.”
Democrats also say Republican claims that the 40-hour mandate is hurting small business are bogus because the provision only applies to companies with 50 or more employees.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to take up the measure soon. But with Republicans assuming control of the Senate this week, anti-Obamacare measures like the “Save American Workers Act” now have an easier path at clearing Congress and landing on the president’s desk.
It’s uncertain if the measure will get the 60 votes likely needed for it to clear the 100-seat chamber….
By Sean Lengell – Washingtom Examiner –